MPs Criticize Federal Government for Outsourcing Visa Processing to Beijing

Contract With Company Owned by Beijing Police Has Created Privacy & Espionage Concerns

The Federal government is facing scrutiny from Members of Parliament over a contract it has with a Beijing police-owned company that processes Canadian visa applications.

The contract is with Beijing Shuangxiong Foreign Service Company, which has been carrying out visa processing services for the Canadian government since 2008. The Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau runs this company.

Despite being active for 13 years, Conservative MP Jasraj Singh Hallan recently brought up the partnership during the House of Commons immigration committee.. Hallan asked Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino if the government was considering the potential risk of espionage due to insufficient screening of staff in China.

NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan also criticized the contract, stating:

“The truth is the entire structure stinks and this is a huge conflict of interest for the safety of applicants.”

In response to the criticism, Mendicino has said that he is confident that there are no privacy issues to be concerned about, and that Beijing Shuangxiong Foreign Service Company is adequately protecting the personal information of those who apply for a Canadian visa.

Mendicino added that the federal government is closely monitoring Shuangxiong Foreign Service Company and conducting regular audits and security screenings of all employees who work there.

“We are eyes wide open on this issue and we will continue to manage these risks going forward,” he said.

During the same committee meeting, Mendicino was also asked about the increasingly tense situation in Hong Kong and whether Canada would take steps to ensure residents could leave Hong Kong and come to Canada in light of “draconian” Chinese security laws and anticipated changes to the electoral system that would restrict Hong Kong’s  independence.

Mendicino responded, saying that the federal government is actively working with allies to monitor the situation in Hong Kong.

“At this difficult moment, Canada stands shoulder to shoulder with the people of Hong Kong and shares the grave concerns of the international community.”

Mendicino added that nobody arrested in relation to protests in Hong Kong would be banned from coming to Canada.

“No Hong Kongers will be prevented from coming to Canada or claiming asylum, because they have participated in peaceful protests,” he said.